After I was penalised for the second time for breaking the 30 mph limit near my home I elected for the speed awareness course rather than the points. I was caught in a speed trap as the dual carriage way (I learned in the course that my definition of one was wrong) in just 20 yards goes from 50 mph to 30 mph, back to 50, and the signage is inadequate.
The course took place in the Greyhound Stadium at Hove which my dog once graced. Armed with the Telegraph crossword, my aim was to sit at the back and get on surreptitiously with something more useful.
My neighbour bettered this as she was running late and had to speed to make it on time.
I soon realised that my hopes of getting on with something else were unrealistic. Mobiles had to be turned off, we were were assembled on tables facing the facilitators and the course was interactive. Indeed both facilitators – Stuart and Richard – used a form of Platonic dialogue forever beginning their observations with “Why do you think that…? “
Yet for all my cynicism that this was yet another money-making initiative, I learned a lot.
Much of the theme of the course was psychological analysing why we speed as much as the inherent dangers of it. The blonde lady next to me, who was the lively type you would wish to meet on holiday, answered the question “Why do you speed? ’ with “because I can.”
At one point we considered the consequences of an accident on 4 groups: the driver, his family and friends, the victim’s family and friends and people on the scene.
You could sense a distinct gloom amongst the attendees. The facilitators made the point that speeding protects those that live in an urban area so why is there any entitlement to harm them?
Another observation was in the car behind the wheel we assume a different personality, so wind the window down to connect with your environment, and get out of your bubble.
Nonetheless I came away with the intention of watching signs an the road more carefully for potential rather than actual dangers. Concentration was stressed. Richard said you only can concentrate for at most 15 minutes in the hour. One wag commented:
“Is that why the course lasts 4 hours then?”
Louise, my sporty and no doubt fun-loving neighbour, returned to her seat after a comfort break.
The first question was “What did you get from the last session, Louise?”
She replied “What, the comfort break? I need one every journey I make …“
One know-all with a HGV licence thought his views were of interest to everyone with constant interruptions; there was a cyclist shouting the odds for greater consideration to her chosen form of transport, a group I find a pest; and a professional delivery driver made us all shut up when he spoke of his girlfriend being decapitated in fatal accident .
All human life was there.
On my journey home I did observe the signs more carefully but still noticed two drivers who pulled out of minor road onto major roads recklessly.